A few months ago at the Tahoma Clinic I visited with a man—let’s call him Derek—who had been diagnosed with early osteoporosis. He had heard of the connection between good testosterone levels and healthy bones, and he wanted to have his levels checked to see if he should try supplementing with this hormone.
Derek’s regular medical doctor, a member of an insurance company preferred provider network, told him he should take Boniva, a “biphosphonate” patent medication. A two-year double-blind, placebo-controlled “prevention” study had shown that Boniva increases bone density in post-menopausal women by approximately 3 percent in the spine, and approximately 2 percent at the hip. A similar three-year treatment study had shown a very significant reduction in new vertebral fractures. Derek had done some basic Internet research and had found that millions of Americans were using biphosphonates for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis.
Unfortunately, Boniva also kills certain bone cells.
I read the following excerpt to him from an information bulletin on the product: “Boniva is a biphosphonate, a metabolic poison that kills the osteoclast bone cells that help create the balance between bone resorption and bone building, thus forcing an increase in bone mass.” I skipped to the side effects section, which included the following: “dyspepsia [heartburn, indigestion, stomach pain], diarrhea, tooth disorder, vomiting, gastritis, infection, and allergic reaction.”
Derek was alarmed when he found out the truth, and I’m sure many of you are feeling the same—especially if you’re taking Boniva.
But you may be wondering, as Derek did, if testosterone and calcium are enough to improve your bone health. I told him I would certainly recommend testosterone if his tests showed the need. But there are other effective options for improving your bone health that don’t require hormonal therapy. In fact, the people I’ve worked with have experienced between 3 and 11 percent improvement in bone density in just one year by using calcium, strontium, vitamin D, and a variety of other nutrients.
The mineral that can make calcium even more effective
Taking strontium in addition to calcium is more effective than calcium alone. Numerous studies have demonstrated that strontium does much more than slow the deterioration of your bones—it actually stimulates rapid bone formation. A 2004 double-blind, placebo controlled study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that a combination of strontium ranelate, calcium, and vitamin D increased bone density by 9 to 15 percent over three years.1 Research conducted in the 80s by one of the same researchers showed under-the-microscope improvement in bone density with strontium carbonate and calcium. And research done at the Mayo Clinic in the 50s showed both clinical and x-ray improvement with a third form of strontium.
For best results, I also recommend having a gastric analysis. Twenty years of tests done at the Tahoma Clinic have shown that 90 percent of individuals with osteoporosis have low stomach acid. If your stomach acid is low, your body won’t be able to absorb calcium, strontium, and other minerals nearly as well, and your results won’t be as good.
You can take these and other bone- building nutrients separately, or all together in one bone-building combination formula. If you take them separately, be sure to always use at least twice as much calcium as strontium.
Although there are others, I recommend two strontium-containing supplements. One is called Osteo-mins AM & PM. It includes calcium, magnesium, strontium, vitamin D, vitamin K, boron, zinc, and other minerals for maintaining and improving bone density. (There is also a version with no vitamin K.) Because some leading researchers state that calcium and strontium mutually inhibit each other’s absorption, calcium is in the PM part of the formula, and strontium is in the AM.
The other supplement I recommend is Strontium Support by Advanced Orthomolecular Research (AOR) of Calgary. It contains 227 mg of strontium. (www.aor.ca)
To purchase either of these supplements, check with your local natural food or vitamin store or compounding pharmacy or contact the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary (see pg. 8 for contact information). For complete details about research and treatment of osteoporosis with strontium (as well as calcium and other nutrients) see the February 2003 issue of Nutrition & Healing.